Recognizing and Preventing Burnout

Burnout, employee wellbeing, stress management, work life balance
3 min read
In today’s fast-paced and overconnected world, burnout has become a prevalent and concerning issue. Burnout can impact your physical and mental well-being and your overall productivity and work satisfaction. In this article we will explore the signs to look for and practical strategies to preventing and overcoming a state of burnout.

What is burnout?

Burnout is different from feeling stressed. Burnout can leave you feeling exhausted, empty, and unable to cope with the demands of life. The term burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterized by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job) and feelings of reduced professional ability. Adults spend most of their awake hours on the job. If you are burnt out and dread facing work each day, it can take a serious toll on your overall health and well-being.

Recognize the signs and symptoms.

The first step in addressing burnout is to recognize the signs. Burnout symptoms include having extremely low or no energy to get the job done, inability to concentrate, irritability with work or co-workers, expressions of negativity or cynicism, use of food, drugs, or alcohol to cope and trouble facing work.

Burnout can lead to even greater issues in your physical or mental well-being. It can cause issues like lowered immunity, insomnia, depression, or unexplained physical ailments.

Steps to take to prevent or reverse burnout:

Burnout does not have to be a permanent condition. With the right support and work, it can be reversed. The underlying issues leading to burnout must first be addressed. It may take some time to get back on course, but doing the following will support you in moving from Burnout to Balance:
  • Setting healthy boundaries:  It is important to first address the issues and sources of ongoing job stress that lead to burnout. You may need to restructure your work environment or your work schedule. Saying ‘no’ more to unnecessary tasks or responsibilities that are not related to the job expectations, scheduling regular work breaks, and minimizing multi-tasking are all good examples that can help maintain boundaries and reduce feelings of burnout.
  • Practicing consistent self-care: This is perhaps the most important step or change you can make when experiencing burnout. Self-care will be defined differently for each person, but some key examples that have been shown to target burnout are mindfulness and meditation, regular exercise, a healthy diet and quality sleep.
  • Nourishing relationships: Many times, burnout at work is a result of too much stress in your personal life rather than too much work stress. Seek support or talk to someone about your home life to help target burnout. One symptom of burnout is isolation and unfortunately COVID forced many into a more isolated existence. If you are feeling lonely, seek more social interactions and work on healthy communication skills. 
  • Reconnecting with purpose: Strive to find more meaning in your work. Breaking workload into small achievable tasks can build meaning and feelings of success again. Personal development is also key to staying connected to work purpose. Try putting things into place that can measure and encourage personal and professional growth for yourself. 
  • Seeking support: It is important and sometimes necessary for those experiencing or at risk for burnout to get the right support. Mental health counseling, employee assistance programs and coaching are all outlets that can help you move from burnout to greater balance. A business or health coach will help you stay focused on your goals and personal self-care needs, while also adding an accountability factor.

If you are personally experiencing burnout, know that you are not alone. This is a unique time in our history that sheds more light on the mental health needs of adults today. There are many things that can be done to help. Following a good self-care routine is key, and working well-being into your workday will certainly support that.

Contact us for more information on our ‘From Burnout to Balance’ presentation that can be offered to your group virtually or in-person. Our health coaching programs are also proving to be helpful in meeting employees’ stress management and burnout needs.


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